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Sweet Pea Spencer Wave Mixed is the standard variety used for garden centre plant sales. Offers a wide mixture of colours, if you are not too bothered what you will get.
For slightly earlier flowering plants, seeds can be sown in pots from mid-October to November and then over-wintered in a cold frame or cold greenhouse. However, most growers prefer to sow seeds indoors in 7.5cm pots from January to April.
For best results use a rich John Innes or peat based seed compost. Fill the pots to within 2cm of the top, and then lightly press down to firm the compost. Using your finger or a dibber, make 2-3 evenly spaced holes approximately 1cm deep and place I seed into each. Lightly cover with seed compost and apply water using a watering with a rose attachment.
Cover the pots with polythene or glass to retain moisture and then leave to germinate, which if a temperature of 15-20c is maintained, should take 7-14 days. It will take a little longer in a colder temperature, however check pots daily.
Some growers prefer to soak the seeds or chip them prior to sowing but this is not considered necessary. When the young plants are about 10cm high you can pinch out the growing tips to encourage plenty of side shoots resulting in bushy plants.
Growing in beds or containers
If the plants are to be grown outdoors in beds then the soil should be well prepared at least 4 weeks in advance ensuring adequate amounts of organic matter is incorporated. Sweet Peas prefer a well-drained soil and a sunny to partial shade position.
Plants should be hardened off prior to planting out into their permanent positions, 20cm-30cm apart, from May onwards and after all danger of frost has passed. After planting, water in and ensure there is suitable support for the plants. Canes, netting and trellis are all ideal for supporting Sweet Peas.
Sweet Peas also grow well in large pots or containers, which can be placed around the garden or patio and decked areas. Use a proprietary potting compost and transplant from the 7.5cm pots into minimum 18cm to 25cm pot or equivalent container sizes.
The addition of a slow release fertiliser to the compost will benefit plants over the long summer months, ensuring they receive adequate supplies of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. Supports can be placed inside the pots or containers, or the plants can be trained over netting or trellis.
Sweet Pea plants need to be kept well-watered and those planted in beds will also benefit from the addition of a general granular fertiliser added to the surface soil after planting. Although the plants produce self-clinging tendrils they sometimes need to be guided onto the supports, otherwise stems can become entangled and damaged.
In all cases remove dead heads regularly to encourage the growth of new flowering stems. If allowed to seed, the plants will quickly stop producing new flowers.
Protect the young plants from slugs and snails and check for aphid attacks. Sweet Peas are very susceptible to powdery mildew, which if spotted, can be treated with a proprietary fungicide. Remove any dead leaves as they appear and keep the plants watered during dry spells.
Grew these last year, lovely colours
Grew from seed for the first time last year and all germinated and grew on well when put outside.Good to have a mix of colours too.